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Boycotting Olympics won't solve anything

Posted: July 20, 2013 - 11:01pm

I don’t like to talk politics much, but when politicians inject themselves into the sports world, it’s hard to ignore them.

Besides the tradition of the president honoring collegiate national champions and professional title winners at the White House, there is very little good that comes from politicians nosing around in the world of athletics.

They certainly became a focal point in baseball’s war on steroids. I always thought it was funny, though, that players got in trouble for lying to Congress. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?

Now along comes U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who wants to bring the Olympics into the National Security Agency-leaker Edward Snowden discussion.

As a former military man I have strong opinions about what should happen to Snowden. I almost wouldn’t be upset if someone like the Russians or the North Koreans granted him asylum. If he thinks America is horrible, let him try living over there for a while. I guess anything would be better than a prison cell for the rest of his life, though.

But back to the main point. On Wednesday, Graham told NBC News that the United States should consider boycotting the upcoming 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, if the Russian government grants Snowden asylum.

I downloaded the story from the NBC website; there were three pages of the story and 31 pages of comments, roughly 30 of which were spent calling Graham names that I can’t repeat in this forum.

Why does Graham feel the need to hurt the men and women in this country, some of whom have worked for the majority of their lives to reach the pinnacle of their chosen sport? I certainly don’t see some athletes, take bobsledders for example, having the opportunity to turn pro and win a championship in the National Bobsled League.

Graham asked that if we went back in time, would we have allowed Adolph Hitler to host the Olympics in Germany? Hitler is one of the most despicable men in history, but had we not attended what would have happened to Jesse Owens, who ended up with four gold medals at those games?

Sanity from other places quickly emerged. The following is attributable to United States Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky and reads in part: “If there are any lessons to be learned from the American boycott of 1980, it is that Olympic boycotts do not work. Our boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games did not contribute to a successful resolution of the underlying conflict. It did, however, deprive hundreds of American athletes, all whom had completely dedicated themselves to representing our nation at the Olympic Games, of the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Well said.

At the same time, Grovetown’s Scott Winkler is in Lyon, France, getting ready to participate in the International Paralympic Athletics World Championships. A two-time U.S. Paralympic Games competitor, Winkler will be representing the country in the men’s shot put - F54/55 category on Saturday.

Good thing they’re not being hosted by Russia.

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